Salary cap? Done. Rookie Wage scale? That too is complete. The major issues have been resolved for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL Owners and Players, but there are a few yards to gain before the 2011 NFL season can begin and we can cheer for our Denver Broncos. Here is what we know.
The 2011 Salary Cap is set at $120 Million per team. With a small-market team caveat. A team will be able to carry a minimum payroll of 89% of the cap provided that the total payout in guaranteed cash is 99 percent of the Total cap. So all 32 NFL teams must spend at least $118.8 million each. Overall, that comes to $3.801 billion, in 2011. The 89-99% figure will stay in place for the first two years of the new CBA. In the case of the lower revenue market teams, they will have at least a minimum payroll of $106.8 million this year. If they cannot meet that figure by the end of the regular season, they would be required to reimburse the difference back into the player revenue pool at that time. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a current payroll of $63 million, so they have some spending to do. A player like Nnamdi Asomugha could make up a lot of that difference.
The Rookie Wage Scale isn't quite accurate. They did get a 50 percent cut in wages according to Thursday's reports, but really, it's more like a rookie compensation system. According to NFL.com, the 5th-year option for rookie contracts would pay top-10 picks the average salary of the top 10 players at their position. For picks 11 through 32, the amount would be the average salary of the 3rd to 25th ranked players at their position. All figures will be taken from the third year of rookie contracts, meaning that for top-10 picks, their 5th-year option amount would be equal to the transition tag number from the previous year.
In Von Miller's case, he will be signing a 4-year contract with an option for a 5th-year. The Broncos will either have to pick up the option after his 3rd year, sign him to an extension, or allow him to become an Unrestricted Free Agent after 4 years. That 5th year will have a price tag of the average salary of the top 10 players at his position.
- The Brady v. NFL antitrust suit and the TV rights fees damages court case under Judge Doty.
- The Retiree benefits need to be addressed. A group of retired players led by Carl Eller have sounded off at being omitted from the CBA discussions and filed a complaint against both sides.
In the above link, Andrew Brandt mentions a proposal called the "Legacy Fund" – which will provide funds and benefits to retired players. It is still being updated, but the claim is that all present and future retirees will have their benefits increased. It remains to be seen where that money will be diverted from. Other details concerning the Player pensions still need to be hammered out.
- Workman's Compensation -- How it will be funded.
- Drug and Steroid testing.
- How the Personal Conduct Policy will be applied for the period during the lockout.
- Player Safety, including reduced offseason schedules.
- Recovering offseason workout bonuses because of the lockout.
The Legacy Fund and drug testing issues will require the NFL Players Association to re-certify as a union or obtain a waiver to finalize. The majority of the language has been worked out on the offseason and Player Safety points.
Off-season/OTAs not expected to begin until mid-to-late April but May 1 is also a date that's been discussed.
If a deal gets done before Thursday's (July 21) owners meetings in Atlanta, a minimum 24 of the 32 owners will have to vote for the proposal to ratify a new CBA at those meetings, and the players would have to re-certify and approve the deal. It is entirely possible that Free Agency (including trades) would blow wide open on July 25th. Then the fun begins. We'll get to watch the final roster invitations for Training Camp and Broncos football will return.